Email warned of centre’s possible permanent closure

Editor’s note: The following email regarding the High Prairie Campus Based Treatment Centre’s possible closure was sent March 21 to Town of High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk, Alberta Children and Family Services Minister Searle Turton, Lesser Slave Lake MLA Scott Sinclair, selected Opposition MLAs and South Peace News. The writer will not be disclosed.

“This letter is to discuss the closure of the High Prairie Youth Assessment Centre. This closure has serious impacts to approximately 40 staff members that worked, resided, and financially contributed to the town of High Prairie and its businesses. There are staff that have been terminated from employment as a result of this closure decision and has negative impacts to the town, employees, youth in care, businesses and the community as a whole.

“Having this facility in operation in a rural northern Alberta community contributed financially to the town of High Prairie and its businesses. The centre spent money at local businesses such as Freson Bros, Home Hardware, H&S Dollar store, movie theatre, the arena and the swimming pool. Staff who worked there live in High Prairie and spend money in High Prairie and contributed to this town. Having a closure impacting this amount of employees in High Prairie will negatively impact the banks, real estate offices, and the multiple businesses these staff used.

“The initial closure in November 2023 was a result of a fire in the building. This could have been repaired and the building reopened but instead strung staff along until this time where staff have been terminated. There have been some staff sent to other youth centre’s in the province and taxpayers are paying the huge expense for hotels and travel and are continuing to do so. The fire incident was unfortunate and was a direct result of very poor management decisions. Luckily no one was seriously hurt with the way things were going.

“Currently, there are four managers that live in High Prairie that should also be facing the same options of termination or move to Edmonton or Lac La Biche where the places they manage are located rather than this extreme travel expense be the burden of the taxpayers. Now there is no youth centre in High Prairie, these four managers travel and expense this. There is no value received when flying and driving vehicles and is a enormous expense to Albertans. I’m calling on the Minister of CFS to relocate these four 4 managers as well. The closest building where these four managers manage is 345 km away (Lac La Biche). The second closest office 363 km (Edmonton). It only seems fair for the management to reside somewhat close to one of the buildings they manage. Why waste taxpayers’ dollars for four managers to extensively travel when they could be relocated where the facilities are?

“I am requesting a response of timeline for the managers to be relocated and a timeline for the building to reopen or public announcement of the closure.

“What was the result of the environmental assessment at the High Prairie Centre? If there are environmental concerns, were these disclosed to the staff? According to OHS legislation, near miss incident reports should be filed for all staff exposed.

“This is a request for transparency and accountability for Albertans’ tax dollars.”

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